Roles and Responsibilities
The Parents and Friends Association
Each Catholic school in Queensland has a P&F association. All parents and carers whose children are enrolled at the school are automatically members of the P&F. The P&F is an integral part of the Catholic school and provides a formal structure and support network for parents to participate in the activities and decision making processes at the school and to work for the benefit of the school and their children.
- The P&F represents the interests of the whole parent body.
- It helps parents engage with the school and the education of their children
- It works to support the school.
This means that parents are partners with the teachers and the principal in the education of their children and consequently parents share the responsibility of educating their children with the teaching staff.
Parents and families are the first teachers of their children and have the right and the responsibility to be engaged with their children’s education. Research shows that children do better at school when parents continue to be engaged throughout their children’s years at school. The P&F can facilitate this engagement.
While other groups may be active within the life of the school, no group, other than the P&F can represent the interests of the whole parent body at any school.
The P&F must operate within its constitution and is obliged to adhere to the aims, objectives and general principles which are written into the constitution. This website provides a model constitution that P&Fs can adjust to the specific needs of their own school.
Some P&F activities
- Develop a community spirit - with a Christian ethos
- Support and work in partnership with Principal and staff
- Participate in decision making
- Promote interaction between home and school, parents and teachers
- Encourage parent participation in teaching and learning activities and school life
- Assist parents to appreciate teaching and learning programs
- Promote the School / College in the wider community
- Attention to faith education activities
- Create a forum for discussion
- Assist in providing resources to the school when necessary
- Planning and organising of functions approved by a P & F Meeting and the Principal
- Work with parish and school board in pursuit of common goals – harmony
Roles of Office Bearers
- Working as a team
- Sub-committee representatives
- Diocesan Council delegates
- Parish Priest
Working as a Team
Establishing a good working relationship with the principal of the school and, for a parish school, with the parish priest, is essential to achieving a common direction and to building a community team.
The office bearers form the executive team who work on behalf the whole P&F (which includes all the parents). The executive team are the parent leadership group and should;
- Arrange some planning and help the P&F set goals for the year
- Understand the constitution and apply it
- Ensure fairness and transparency in decision making, and
- Ensure accountability in financial matters.
It is fundamental to the success of community-building that each party understands and respects the rights and responsibilities of the other parties. An effective leader, particularly in a Christian context, is not on about power play regardless of his or her official position and authority.
The president is the leader but not the ‘boss’. The key task of the president is to ensure that the needs and wishes of the parent body are given a voice and that good relationships are established with the principal and teachers. The president is a guide for and example to all parents.
Duties and Responsibilities
A President leads the P&F Association by:
- Plan and chair meetings in consultation with the secretary and principal;
- Ensure meetings run according to the agenda and the constitution
- Ensure fair discussion - give all an opportunity to speak
- Ensure activities are sanctioned by principal
- Work with the treasurer to ensure financial accountability
- Ensure decisions are carried out – follow up
- Encouraging parents to get involved
- helping parents feel welcomed at the school
Some things to be aware of as president
- Tune in to parents’ comments
- Respond to comments
- Meet as many parents as possible – welcome them individually to meetings
- Manage attempts to dominate the meetings
- Avoid one on one issues at meetings
- Stop ‘personal issues’ if these arise at meetings
- Avoid ambushes particularly of the principal
The Vice President will support the President by:
- Chairing the meeting in his/her absence;
- Sharing duties and responsibilities as agreed e.g. being responsible for coordinating the activities of sub-committees.
- Being supportive and attending meetings.
- Playing a constructive role – not just an understudy
The Secretary is very important to the efficient operation of any organization. A secretary needs enthusiasm, initiative and an ability to work with the President. The Secretary’s main functions are:
- Communication and correspondence
- Maintaining effective records
- Ensuring meetings are effectively organised and minuted
Duties and Responsibilities
- Prepare the agenda in consultation with the president and principal
- Notify members of meetings (date, time, venue)
- Keep good records
- Receive and manage the correspondence
- Obtain reports from sub-committees
- Write up the minutes
- Understand the constitution
- Guide and advise the president.
There is more!
- After the meeting, minutes should be written up promptly and actions taken on any decisions
- Write letters in accordance with the instructions of the meeting or the President;
- Prepare minutes for school newsletter;
- Confirm attendance of Executive and other appropriate people;
- Clear the mail regularly and keep the President informed on all issues;
- Ensure a close communication and cooperation between the parent Association, office staff, school staff and parents;
- Maintain a collaborative approach at all times
The Treasurer accounts for and reports on the finances of the P&F. The Treasurer needs to be a person of trust and responsibility.
Duties and Responsibilities
- Must keep accurate financial records of all receipts and expenditure;
- Must issue receipts for all money received;
- Pay all accounts as authorized;
- Bank all money regularly;
- Present a monthly financial report – keep the P&F informed
- Arrange for an audited financial report for the Annual General Meeting;
- Arrange for the monthly Bank Statement and reconcile deposits and cheque books with the statements.
Sub-committee can save time and ease the workload of the regular P&F meetings by dealing with particular projects and reporting back to the P&F meeting. Sub-committees must be set up by the decision of a P&F meeting and their task should be clearly defined in writing as part of the minutes of that meeting.
- Meet with your sub-committee colleagues and focus on the task
- Be prepared to report to P&F meetings;
- Attend meetings regularly;
- Send apologies if unable to attend;
- Be cooperative at all times;
- Responsibility for what has been agreed should be shared by all group members.
- Attend to business of particular sub-committee to obtain outcome
- Ensure Terms of Reference for committee is adhered to
DIOCESAN COUNCIL DELEGATES
To represent the P&F of your school at the diocesan council.
- Attend your school P&F association meetings
- Attend Diocesan cluster and/or diocesan council meetings
- Ensure correspondence from diocesan council is read and dealt with appropriately
- Report to the P&F about diocesan council meetings
- Take issues to diocesan council meetings
The P&F can only work well if it has a positive relationship with the Principal. The Principal is the manager of the school. He/she is an ex-officio member of the Parents and Friends Association so the connection with the P&F is strong.
This connection is even more important when we recognise that the school and the family are partners in the education of our children. Connections between families and school that promote student learning contribute to students’ success at school.
While the Principal has the final decision making role, parents expect that they will be based on good consultation. Also decisions made at P&F meetings must have the support of the Principal as he/she has ultimate responsibility for the school.
Activities of the P & F must be, under the constitution, carried out as agents of the school thereby needing the support of the Principal. The association is considered to be under the umbrella of the church entities act for legal and insurance reasons and the Principal is charged with responsibility for the school.
Key aspects of the Relationship
- Provides leadership, guidance and support
- Collaborative and cooperative approach
- Works with President and executive (as well as all parents)
- Provides information to the community
- Accessible to parents
- Develops the school profile - enrolment trends, demographics, mission statement, priorities, facilities, resources, parish links
In Parish Schools, the Parish Priest has overall responsibility under Canon Law for the whole parish community including the school. He is an ex-officio member of the P&F.
Where possible and practical parents and the P&F should support and encourage the involvement of the Parish Priest with the life of the children at school.